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From Jokes to Jump Scares: Funny Folks Who Found Success in Scary Movies

Last weekend, Paramount’s A Quiet Place took the box office by storm with an astonishing $50 million debut thanks to positive word of mouth. The monster movie has director John Krasinski to thank, as the funnyman-turned-helmer guided the intense thriller to critical acclaim.

Krasinski is the latest Hollywood hitmaker with a comedy background who took to scares to show off his helming skills. The former The Office star follows in the footsteps of Jordan Peele, who also found box office success within genre films. The duo are part of a growing list of funny folks turned filmmakers who got their star in one genre but found success in another. In this case, comedy gurus who turned to gore.

Here is a quick list of jokester who made the jump to jump scares when they sat in the director’s chair:


John Landis

Landis got his start in the industry with irreverent comedies such as Schlock and Kentucky Fried Movie before he found A-list status as the helmer of National Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blues Brothers.

Landis followed up this success with a romp through the English countryside with An American Werewolf in London.

Although containing comedic elements, the shocking gore and special effects of London made the film not only one of the best horror films of all time, but earned its makeup man Rick Baker the inaugural Academy Award for Makeup & Hairstyling.


Sam Raimi

Before he become known for his splatter-punk sensibilies, Raimi starred and directed comedy shorts with an icky bent.

His late ‘70s and early ‘80s resume was filled with handmade comedies starring friends, family and himself. It wasn’t until he directed the iconic indie hit Evil Dead that Raimi became known as a guru in genre filmmaking.

Since then, it’s be path paved with blood, guts and chainsaw hands.


Rob Reiner

Comedy is in Reiner’s blood, as his father was a legend in the field as a top writer for Hollywood’s hitmakers. In the ‘70s, the prodigal son began getting his own laughs (and fame) as Michael ‘Meathead’ Stivic on All in the Family. In the ‘80s, the actor began to move behind the camera with comedy classic This Is Spinal Tap.

In 1990, Reiner took the leap into horror with the classic Misery, finding box office success and directing its star Kathy Bates to Oscar gold.


Bobcat Goldthwait

Better known for screeching punchlines then giving gentle direction, the one-time star of the Police Academy franchise, Scrooged and Hot to Trot began directing in the ‘90s with dark comedies and small screen comedies.

In 2013, he offered a scary take on the legend of Bigfoot with the horror flick Willow Creek.


Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi

The star and writer of Flight of the Conchords had a background in stand up and comedic performances before heading into the vampire mythology with What We Do In the Shadows.

And while Shadows is still a comedy, there are many unnerving parts of the mockumentary to warrant a place on this list. In fact, the entire dinner scene was unsettling enough to carry the film in the horror genre.


Woody Allen

It’s been about 50 years since Allen has taken to the stand-up spotlight, but the Oscar-winning helmer has spent a good portion of those decades becoming a A-list director and massive influence in the film industry. Better known for his dramas and comedies, Allen surprised both longtime fans and the film industry with 2005’s Match Point. Perhaps more thriller than horror, the intense story follows a narcissist who turns to murder to cover for his indiscretions.


Jordan Peele

The former star of Mad TV found fame and became a household name with his sketch variety show Key & Peele, but it wasn’t until 2017’s Get Out that Peele earned the keys to the kingdom.

His thought-provoking horror pic opened doors and earned the funnyman a place on the A-list. Keep an eye out for Peele’s return to the small screen as the Oscar-nominated director takes the reins of the new Twilight Zone reboot.



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